Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Stockholm and Vancouver are all cities in Europe but that is not all they have in common. These cities are all rated amongst the top ten greenest cities in the world. This accolade was not easily acquired, neither was it acquired by having perfect plans which existed only on paper.

At a point, these cities made decisions by putting measures in place to make them greener, healthier and more beautiful. This was achieved in various ways and at different times; but there was a common theme – All of these cities made it a point to cut or reduce carbon emissions and use of fossil fuels whilst increasing the number of green spaces.

Though the theme was the same, the approach was different. Copenhagen for instance, in line with its goal of being carbon neutral by 2020, designed its infrastructure to be more favorable towards bicycling and walking rather than driving thereby reducing the number of cars on the streets; a solution which ultimately reduced the emissions from cars.

Accra may not be the dirtiest city in the Africa or the world by any means. But being home to the world’s largest e-waste dumping site certainly does not make it the cleanest in Africa. The Agbogbloshie e-waste dump site has been blamed continuously for not only being the cause of the polluted environment along the Graphic Road, but it is also partly blamed for Accra’s perennial floods as many are of the view that the pollution of the Odaw River is largely as a result of their activities.

This e-waste dump site coupled with the indiscriminate disposal of plastic waste derails the country’s efforts at being greener and healthier. The city authorities are doing their part but as is the mantra of all public sensitizing campaigns, we as citizens have a major role to play. Playing your part does not exempt the city authorities from doing their jobs but ensuring that as part of your civic duty, you contribute in your own way to making the city greener, healthier and more beautiful.

Contributing to a greener, healthier, more beautiful Ghana involves more than simply keeping the environment clean. Disposing of waste properly, recycling, planting and growing flowers in open spaces and education need to be incorporated to make change a success. The truth is, Accra has gradually turned into a concrete jungle and almost every part of the city has been concretized. This recently reached alarming levels when experts indicated that most of the city’s wetlands had been reclaimed for construction purposes. Pulling down trees to make room for high-rise buildings, apartments or shopping malls may make the city look beautiful, but will not make it healthier. However, planting more flowers and trees in open spaces will make the city visually pleasing, healthier and cleaner.

Flowers for instance, aside their aesthetic appeal make the city cleaner by making the air fresher and even has an effect on reducing stress levels of inhabitants. There are many expectations on the city authorities to put to action the numerous plans which have been made for beautifying Accra but we the citizenry can do our part was well. How about planting flowers in front of your house instead of using pavement slaps? Or growing flower hedges instead of constructing a wall? How about coming together with your neighbours to turn that bare area in your neighborhood into a mini park where children can play and adults can relax? Why not plant more trees to improve the quality of our air?

We would all love to see Ghana take a place in the top five cleanest cities in Africa and amongst the top ten cleanest cities in the world. The Ghana Garden and Flower Show being held at the Efua Sutherland Children’s Park from the 8th to 14th of September, is ideal to learn about working towards a greener, healthier, more beautiful Ghana. It is a long journey that can only begin with you. Start by planting a tree or a single flower. Join the Ghana Garden and Flower Movement and let’s do our part to make Ghana greener, healthier and more beautiful.

By Akosua Kwafo Ogyiri

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